Down on Solicitors Who Imply Government Connection

TRENTON – In an effort to stem the tide of misleading solicitation in mailings, and to prevent fraudulent representation, a bill sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou that would require the inclusion of a disclosure letter with any mailing that falsely implies a State government connection, approval, or endorsement cleared the Senate Commerce Committee today.

The legislation would make it an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for any person, corporation or business trust to send a mailing that constitutes a solicitation by a nongovernmental entity for the purchase of or payment for a product or service, which could reasonably be interpreted as falsely implying State government sanction — unless the mailing entity also included a disclosure letter.

“In this time in particular, when so many people continue to struggle with economic, medical and emotional challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, we must do everything we can to protect our residents from those who would prey on the vulnerable in this ongoing time of anxiety,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen), Chair of the Commerce Committee. “Those who seek to mislead through solicitation by falsely implying government action or intervention should be made to feel the full force of the law.”

An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. A violation can also result in a cease and desist order issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured.

The bill cleared committee by a vote of 5-0.